Mickelson hoping to soak up energy of Chicago crowd

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Phil Mickelson set a record he did not want in the Ryder Cup two years ago – the most career defeats by any American in the history of the event.

Today he will set a record that makes him really proud – most caps by any American since the competition began in 1927.

Mickelson, making his ninth consecutive appearance, has tasted victory only in 1999 and 2008, but says: “I just love this event.”

The 42-year-old has had 13 different partners since his debut in 1995 and debutant Keegan Bradley looks certain to become the 14th. “It’s no secret,” Mickelson added.

Mickelson is urging the crowd to play their part at Medinah, a course set up for the attacking style at which he excels.

“Over the years, looking back, we have not played our best when we have focused on trying to win the Ryder Cup,” he said.

“We’ve played our best when we’ve had fun, enjoyed each other’s company and enjoyed the competition, embraced the gallery and felt the momentum – kind of like in 2008 with Zinger (then captain Paul Azinger).

“I think for us to do well we’ve got to feel the presence of the crowd here in Chicago. We need the support, we need that momentum, we need that energy that they provide for us to play our best golf.

“I think that the environment here and the electricity that people bring is going to help us play well.

“I don’t know if it’ll be enough. It’s a tough European team.”

For six of his previous eight matches, Mickelson has had Tiger Woods as a team-mate, but they have played only two games together – in Detroit in 2004 – and lost them both.

Never has a captain’s plan backfired so spectacularly.

The pair have never been viewed as close friends and nobody should anticipate seeing them back together again this week – unless, that is, the cameras are allowed into the team room.

In Ryder Cup weeks Mickelson and Woods have become table tennis partners.

“We’ve had not much success together on the course, but I will say that as partners on the pong table he and I are delivering,” said Mickelson.

“We are serving it up and there are not many guys that can match us on the pong table – we’re rocking it.”

That said, Matt Kuchar is the undisputed top player in the American camp.

Asked how success at one sport could help bring success when it matters in another, Mickelson replied: “Mojo – you’ve got to have momentum, you’ve got to feel it and it’s been good for Tiger and I.

“As my career has progressed I realise that these are some of the most special weeks throughout a career. Also they’re the weeks that relationships are formed that last a lifetime.”